Korean row worsens
NORTH FIRES MISSILE OVER JAPAN IN RETALIATION TO US, SOUTH MILITARY DRILLS
North Korea has fired a missile over Japan and into waters off the northern region of Hokkaido, marking a sharp escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.
The test, which appeared to be a recently developed intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missile, came as American and South Korean forces conduct annual military drills on the peninsula, against which North Korea strenuously objects.
North Korea has conducted dozens of ballistic missile tests under young leader Kim Jong Un, the most recent on Saturday, but firing projectiles over mainland Japan is rare.
‘‘North Korea’s reckless action is an unprecedented, serious and a grave threat to our nation,’’ Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
Mr Abe said he spoke to the Unites States’ President Donald Trump on Tuesday and they agreed to increase pressure on North Korea. Mr Trump also said the US was ‘‘100 per cent with Japan’’, Mr Abe said.
The US, Japan and South Korea asked for a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the test.
Earlier this month, the Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea in response to two long-range missile launches in July.
The Japanese military did not attempt to shoot down the missile, which passed over the country about 6.07 am.
The missile broke into three pieces and fell into waters off Hokkaido, 1180 km east of Cape Erimo. The Japanese Government’s J-Alert system broke into radio and TV programming, warning citizens of the possible missile. Bullet train services were temporarily halted and warnings went out over loudspeakers in towns in Hokkaido.
‘‘I was woken by the missile alert on my cellphone,’’ said Ayaka Nishijima, an office worker from Morioka.
‘‘I didn’t feel prepared at all. Even if we get these alerts there’s nowhere to run. It’s not like we have a basement or bomb shelter, all we can do is get away from the window.’’
South Korea said the missile flew 2700 km, reaching an altitude of about 550 km.
Yoon Young-chan, a spokesman for the presidential Blue House in Seoul, said South Korean fighter jets conducted bombing drills at a firing exercise ground after Pyongyang’s latest launch.
Global markets reacted to the escalation in tensions. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell almost one per cent to a near four-month low.
Some experts said Kim was trying to pressure Washington to the negotiating table with the latest test.
Earlier this month, North Korea threatened to fire four Hwasong-12 missiles into the sea near the US Pacific territory of Guam.
Tensions flare: A photo from the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows the second test-fire of an ICBM Hwasong-14 at an undisclosed location in North Korea in July.